State-Federal Relations

Resource Guide

In accordance with the U.S. Constitution, a majority of governmental functions upon which citizens depend are the responsibility of the state, rather than the federal, government. State court systems collectively handle many times the volume of cases handled within the federal court system, and while relations between the two spheres are generally smooth, issues such as the federal statutory preemption of state and local authority continues to exist.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Resources

Federal and State Court Cooperation. This Federal Judicial Center website describes how cooperation between state and federal courts can enable more efficient use of time and resources for both courts.  When working together, state and federal courts can identify sources of potential tension (e.g., calendar and scheduling conflicts, certification of state law questions, access to records) and consider how to share limited resources (e.g., facilities, emergency preparedness, civics education programs, translators).
Gregory E. Mize & James Fletcher Judicial Ethics Considerations When Managing Multi-Jurisdiction Litigation. (2012).

This study offers comparative analysis of how major judicial ethics codes in the United States of America address four ethical considerations that can arise in the context of judicial cooperation in the management of multi-jurisdiction cases. It also offers charts showing correspondence and similarity between state code sections and model code sections, as well as tables showing the relevant sections of each state code concerning the four ethical considerations.

Paul M. Collins, Jr., Daniel A. Norton, Kenneth L. Manning, and Robert A. Carp. International Conflicts and Decision Making on the Federal District Courts. (2008). Justice System Journal 29, no. 2.

This article investigates the systematic effects of war on the choices jurists make.  The authors investigated whether international conflicts influence the decision-making of federal district court judges by examining the choices those judges make during periods of both war and peace.

Suveiu, Virginia and Brenda Uekert. Human Trafficking: A Growing Crime to Hit the State Courts. (2005). Future Trends in State Courts.

Human trafficking is a global problem with local implications. As state anti-trafficking legislation efforts increase, state court judges will begin to hear human-trafficking cases in their courtrooms.


Kay Farley. The Implications of Federal Policy on State Courts. (2008). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2008.

Increasingly, federal policy has an impact on the operations of state courts and the administration of jutice.  While the impact predominately hs been a result of Congress placing requirements on state courts, regulations promulgated by federal agencies are also affecting state courts.

Wendy L. Watson, McKinzie Craig, and Daniel Orion Davis. Federal Court Certification of State-Law Questions: Active Judicial Federalism. (2007). Justice System Journal 28, no. 1.

This article discusses the federal court certification process which “allows the highest court in the state to answer legal questions certified by federal courts.

Cheesman, Fred, Brian Ostrom, and Roger Hanson. A Tale of Two Laws Revisted: Investigating the Impact of Prisoner Litigation Reform Act and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty. (January 2004). 103 pages.

The purpose of this research is to evaluate the impact of the PLRA and the AEDPA. The goal was to determine the extent to which AEDPA and the PLRA have affected the number of habeas corpus petitions and prisoner lawsuits filed, respectively.

Clewett, Laurie. Federalism in Flux. (October 2003). State Government News: 6 This article addresses the 1990s boom of state empowerment and the general decline in emphasis on state influence with regards to the federal government since 2003. 
Michael E. Solimine. Judicial Federalism After Bush v. Gore: Some Observations. (2002). Justice System Journal 23, no. 1.

Addresses recent developments in judicial federalism, encompassing both how the federal courts police boundaries between federal and state power and how federal and state court interact.

Hewitt, William, Paula Hannaford, Catherine Gill, and Melissa Cantrell. Court Interpreting Services in State and Federal Courts: Reasons and Options for Inter-court Coordination. (October 1998).

This report explains court interpreting services in state and federal courts by examining the Consortium, whose purpose is to find qualified interpreters through rigorous testing.

Apple, James, Paula Hannaford, and G. Thomas Munsterman. Manual for Cooperation Between State and Federal Courts. (1997). 247 pages. NCSC and Federal Judicial Center.

This manual promotes cooperation between state and federal courts.  It contains examples of practical steps state and federal judges and courts can take to save resources through sharing, to avoid scheduling or other conflicts that adversely affect court operations and the bar, and plan programs and other services that benefit both judiciaries.

Hanson, Roger and Henry Daley. Federal Habeas Corpus Review: Challenging State Court Criminal Convictions. (1995).

This report focuses on habeas corpus petitions in state courts, regarding the debate of creating a national policy for all such petitions. The authors provide examples and background information regarding habeas corpus policies in several states, present arguments, and then provide recommendations for answering the question of creating a national policy.

Flango, Victor. Habeas Corpus in State and Federal Courts. (1994). 120 pages.

Report presents findings about possible ways to reduce state/federal tensions resulting from habeas corpus petitions.

Federal Statutory Preemption of State and Local Authority: History, Inventory, and Issues. (1992). Washington, DC: U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations This work provides information regarding federal preemption of state and/or local authority by acts of Congress and by judicial and administrative interpretations of federal statues. It provides ways in which to interpret federal preemption powers and recommendations to local and state authorities for combating intrusive measures.
Issue: Federalism.

Government Relations describes the impact, position, and summary on the issue of Federalism in Congress.